Audio Go have just released a third box set of Lost TV Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Doctor Who where the video has been lost but the audio remains. There are a few stories included in the set, so rather than post one big review, I'll be breaking it down and review each individually.
Next up is The Tenth Planet.
I know I say this about a lot of these AudioGo ‘classic’ Who releases, but this one really is important.
Why, you may ask?
And if you are asking that, then immediately deduct twenty nerd points.
Because The Tenth Planet is notable for two things.
The first is that it introduced the world to what are, for my money, the best Doctor Who villains ever: the Cybermen. The second is, of course, is that this was William Hartnell’s final Who adventure.
I suppose the big question is: is this a suitably notable tale for him to go out on?
For the most part, yes it is.
The setting, an Antarctic base, owes much to Hughes’s The Thing from Another World, but plotwise they could not be more different.
There are many stills of this adventure out there, and as far as I know there is at least one episode still in existence, because I’m pretty sure I have seen it, or at least some of it.
The Cybermen are a brilliant creation, and Kit Peddler does not get enough credit for what he unleashed on the world. Most people have, I am sure, heard of Terry Nation, but what of the writer who created a creature equal to the Daleks? Maybe we should start a campaign…
Anyway, back to the subject in hand. The story is pretty tense, but there are one or two moments in there that have always stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
Chief among them is the moment when companion Ben attacks one of the Cybermen.
What the Cybermen should have done then was simply kill him - this would be the most logical course of action, but instead they order one of their number to take him into another room and watch him! Yes, I know this is because he is a cast regular, but it is something that should and could have been addressed in the writing. Still, too late now, eh?
Like Peter Purvis did with great skill in the previous set, Anneke Wills, who played Polly in this story, provides the linking narration.
As for Hartnell, there are mixed feeling listening back to this. He is clearly a man who is tired. This comes across loud and clear in his performance, but whether he is tired with the series or through ill health, I do not know (although I’m sure some of you do).
Either way, it makes his final moments all the more powerful and poignant, and in turn sets us up nicely for the next story in this set…